Friday, March 14, 2008

Support Network

This weekend marks my official anniversary date of maintaining my weight and while I acknowledge my efforts to maintain my weight at this time (usually with a nice piece of jewelry), I also send thank-you notes to the people who have supported me in the process.

A support network is vital. My partner and I were discussing his role as my number one cheerleader, coach, supporter for my weight management efforts and he mentioned there should be classes for significant others to take so they can learn how to support their loved ones with their weight management.

It's not just about saying "you look great" or "you're doing so well." While the positive acknowledgments are important, sometimes they aren't appropriate. For example when I was transitioning from Optifast to regular food, I splurged and bought myself a small (4-piece) box of chocolates. This was outside all the boundaries I'd set for myself. My partner didn't say "That's OK. A treat every now and then won't hurt you. You've done so well." Instead he asked, much to my annoyance at the time, "why did you do that?" He wasn't judging me. He was asking me to be honest with myself and why I would choose to stray outside the boundaries during such an important phase of my weight loss.

It's hard for your friends and family to know how to support you. I'm lucky - my partner is incredibly intelligent and has some psychology and medical training. And he is brave enough to risk alienating me by asking me to be honest. Friends and family don't necessarily want to take that risk and they stick to the safe "You look great" type of supporting comments.

Help your supporters by letting them know what you need. Make sure you have one supporter who will call you down when you need to be called down. Also, if some of your supporters are making comments like "you don't really need to lose any more weight" and you have at least 10 lbs to lose to be in a healthy weight range, then you may want to question that person's support. That person may have issues he/she are trying to make yours by sabotaging your efforts. Don't let them. That happened to me while I was still on OPTIFAST and I learned to say "Thank you. My doctor and I have set a healthy goal for me and I am still working towards that goal." If the person persists, then perhaps you should limit your contact with that person.

Overall, though, people DO want you to succeed and I think it's important to acknowledge and thank them for their support.

And now I'm off to write thank you notes.

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